Enterprise Ireland says it invested in 80 start-ups during 2010 and said that client companies grew export sales in 2010, recovering in the region of 70pc of the losses made in 2009.
In its End of Year Statement published today, Enterprise Ireland reported that 2010 was a year of strong recovery of export growth, which has helped to sustain employment in Irish companies.
The outlook is more positive now than at any point over the past three years, and Irish companies are using this renewed confidence to aggressively target opportunities in international markets.
Enterprise Ireland estimates that its client companies grew export sales in 2010, recovering in the region of 70pc of the losses made in 2009.
Enterprise Ireland businesses reported an expansion in new export orders each and every month in 2010 and this trend is set to continue.
“We expect new export sales from Enterprise Ireland clients in the order of €1 billion in 2010 and more importantly they will spend €19 billion in the Irish economy,” Enterprise Ireland CEO Frank Ryan said.
“Irish companies have withstood the severe conditions they have faced, and have emerged leaner, stronger and with a greater appetite for international growth than ever before.”
He said the best efforts of Enterprise Ireland were focused on sustaining and growing jobs across its client companies.
In overall terms, the total number of people at work (full time and part time) in Enterprise Ireland client companies was 156,577, a net decrease of 3,726, or -2.3pc.
“This represents an important stabilisation in the employment of Enterprise Ireland client companies.
Full-time employment in Enterprise Ireland client companies stood at 137,241 in 2010. A total of 8,193 new jobs were created by client companies with a net decline of 5,355.
“As key export markets have strengthened, and Irish businesses have responded to the opportunities presented, the conditions for job growth have improved. Of particular importance, was the recovery of the food sector which is Ireland’s biggest indigenous industry,” Ryan said.
The introduction by Enterprise Ireland of special lean programmes for the food sector in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has resulted in companies increasing productivity.
Key investments were also won against strong international competition – most notably Danone Baby Infant formula factory in Macroom.
“These successes give us great hope and confidence for the continued success of this vital sector.
“Enterprise Ireland will continue to identify and help secure overseas market opportunities for Irish companies. This will not only assist growth in exporting businesses, but also in the wider economy. The full focus of Enterprise Ireland is aimed at the ultimate objective of increasing exports and consequently, employment here in Ireland,” Ryan concluded.
The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD said the results outlined in Enterprise Ireland’s End of Year Statement demonstrate that their tenacity has critically resulted in export growth that is creating new jobs, sustaining employment and stemming job losses.
“Over 2011, these firms can build on these achievements and concentrate on making further gains as business activity in our main trading partners recovers.
“The Government, through Enterprise Ireland, will continue to support Ireland’s entrepreneurial-led firms as they seek further export gains that will provide high-value, sustainable jobs,” O’Keeffe said.
Despite the recession Enterprise Ireland client companies continued to invest in R&D.
In 2010, 86 Enterprise Ireland companies were approved R&D funding in excess of €100K. Over €30m has been approved towards R&D in 2010 to date with a number of significant R&D approvals each worth over €1m. It said a series of initiatives are planned in 2011 to maximise the contribution of research to export and job growth in Ireland.
In 2010 alone the agency invested in more than 80 new High Potential Start-Ups. These companies will play a crucial role in job creation in the coming years.
“Overseas entrepreneurs will be a key target for Enterprise Ireland in 2011. We are developing initiatives and programmes to make Ireland a more attractive location for them to start their business in Ireland.”
Access to finance
The agency said that access to Finance is one of the significant challenges for Irish companies.
The Enterprise Stabilisation Fund which was launched in April 2009 has to date approved over €86m for 242 projects, this investment will sustain more than 10,000 jobs throughout Ireland.
A large number of expressions of interest were received to participate in Innovation Fund Ireland and significant progress will be made in 2011. “Furthermore, well in excess of €100m is now available for seed funding, supported by Enterprise Ireland in conjunction with private funds, which represents an unprecedented level of equity financing for start-ups,” it said.
Manufacturing continues to be a vitally important sector for Ireland and increased competitiveness is an ongoing objective for Irish companies. To date 71 companies have been approved funding, mostly in food, clean tech, electronics and life sciences.
Already, improvements in lead times, unit costs and profitability in the order of 10-15pc have been achieved by participating companies in ‘lean’ manufacturing programmes and this drive will continue in 2011